William Byrd House
In A Nutshell:
Serves inner-city neighborhoods in the heart of Richmond, Virginia. Provides a full range of prevention-oriented community-based programs to empower the individual, strengthen the family, and enhance city neighborhoods (programs below).
Why They Rock:
- Early Childhood Programs: Geared to build up children’s confidence, encourage curiosity through art and creative play, and promote nutrition and healthy living.
- After School Programs (nationally accredited): Allows children aged 5 to 12 opportunities to develop positive social skills with the following: in group discussions, games, weekly clubs, computer labs, a community garden, our Byrd House Market, educational field trips, health and nutrition education, and physical activity.
- Youth & Young Adult Services: Curriculum-based workforce readiness and leadership education for ages 14 – 21.
- Family Support & Emergency Services: Provide emergency and case management services to Richmond residents as well as Housing Opportunities for people with HIV/AIDS.
- Grace Arents Library and Education Center: A resource and idea center augmenting WBCH programs and opening doors to surrounding communities.
- The Grace Arents Community Garden and Byrd House Market: Established to work through the Education Center to support WBCH’s goal of creating a healthy community where good nutrition, good community, and the environment are important priorities.
I was the ‘undercover maintenance volunteer’ and cleaned everything from gook on doors to erasing Mr.Lucky Charm off the chalkboard. I received numerous thanks from the Byrd staff who didn’t know my name but understood I was working for the kids. The playful environment at the Byrd House brought alive the kid in me which was a great reminder of why we are all here – just find the yellow bug photo and you will understand.
My organized contact Jessica had a list of things to clean/fix in preparation of the National AfterSchool Association who will inspect the facility for national accreditation (huge honor). The entire property was beautiful, I was just doing the pre-prom shower – cleaning those hidden spots…inside the belly button!
Maintenance Man Honey Do List:
- Scrub all the doors in the community room
- Clean the stage where kids perform dance and music acts
- Fix the Atari Remote (loved Pitfall back in the day)
- Erase and clean all ‘chalkdoors’ (coating on doors is friendly for chalk)
- Scrub and dust the computer lab
- Get the Karaoke machine kicking (I lost this battle…couldn’t find the microphone)
- Inflate footballs and soccer balls (thank you electronic pump – Ronnie!) Lunch Break – Cruised around VCU (yes…Final Four Rams!) and had a great sandwich and cup of java at Rev It Up! Coffee!
- Cover a door in ocean wrapping paper to display children’s art
- Scrub the outside water table
- Wrestle a squirrel (no, just checking if you are reading)
- Rake all leaves blocking the gutter spouts
- Clean-up the leaves in the swimming pool
- Pick-up trash around the playgrounds
The full day of cleaning ended with a run around the beautiful campus of the University of Richmond (my alma mater), and then I cleaned up for a 50Give Pit-Stop Party with friends at the amazing Vietnamese restaurant Mekong (been dreaming about their spring rolls for six months…thank you Zoppos & Dawn for dindin)! My sweet lodging host Tina provided the entire upstairs of her home which could be the West Elm showcase model…I was ready to move in but her dog Millie runs shop – I need to start bringing Beggin’ Strips!
The William Byrd House provides something for all ages and needs – emergency services, community garden (really used), a library, work-force training, and after-school care. I didn’t directly work with kids, but my ‘undercover’ tasks of scrubbing floors, raking leaves, and fixing games hopefully created a positive environment so these kids can reach their full potential and most importantly, enjoy being kids.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw